Painting #5 (1994)
(i.m. Gordon Smith, d. 18 January 2020)
“… forms, figures, shapes, objects, ideas,
apprehensions, motions, revolutions: these
are begot in the ventricle of memory…”
Holofernes to Sir Nathaniel (Love’s Labour’s Lost, 4.2.1213-1217)
This Black Painting drew us in, deep and deeper: we were transfixed by
the guts of war, spilt across canvas made from your soldier’s kit,
red raw like your own flesh torn open that day on Pachino Beach.
This Black Painting claimed us, pinned us to itself precisely at the white X:
specimen butterflies held fast now to your dark history, unable to flit away.
Not Shakespeare’s wry schoolmaster, but the general who fell head over heels
for Judith, is invoked by indictment at the foot of your canvas: “HOLOFERNES”.
And thus, Artemesia’s creaking wheel takes its next slow turn: lives intersecting,
unexpectedly, to some larger purpose begot in the ventricle of your memory.
P.W. Bridgman is a Pushcart Prize-nominated writer of poetry and short fiction. His most recent book—a selection of poems entitled A Lamb--was published by Ekstasis Editions in 2018. It was preceded in 2013 by a selection of short fiction entitled Standing at an Angle to My Age (published by Libros Libertad). Bridgman’s poems and stories have appeared in The Moth Magazine, The Glasgow Review of Books, The Honest Ulsterman, The High Window, The Bangor Literary Journal, The Galway Review, Ars Medica, Poetry Salzburg Review and other literary periodicals, e-zines and anthologies. Learn more at www.pwbridgman.ca.
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